BookLife Talks with Christopher Lentz
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'My Friend Marilyn'
Lentz introduces his Great American Destination Series with a story of friendship and self-empowerment featuring Marilyn Monroe and the illustrious Hotel del Coronado.
What's the story behind My Friend Marilyn—what inspired you to write it?I was intrigued by the idea that the most beautiful woman in the world—who was also terribly insecure—could befriend a plus-size, small-town girl who was very confident in her own skin. Some Like It Hot also happens to be one of my favorite films. It inspired me to set this story at the Hotel del Coronado, where part of the film was shot in 1958 and where my wife and I spent our wedding night.
Why or how do you think this book is particularly relevant now?
Marilyn would've turned 92 this past June. What she lived through is still relevant. Though Hollywood has changed a lot, it hasn't changed enough. Just look at today's headlines.
Who's your ideal reader and why?
My Friend Marilyn will appeal to fans of Marilyn Monroe, Some Like It Hot, plus-size heroines, Old Hollywood, and the equally famous Hotel del Coronado, as well as to fiction readers in general.
If Marilyn Monroe were to read this book, what do you think she'd say?
Placing a palm over her heart and working her eyelids like a skilled geisha with two painted paper fans, she'd probably say, "You're too kind." She'd scoop her platinum bangs to the side and add, "Thank you, ever so much." This is the Marilyn who still charms today, and she sparkles in my book.
What's it like to write about someone so legendary, and Marilyn Monroe at that? What responsibility do you feel to adhere to the historical record—or legend—and where did you depart from it?
I took great care in putting together this story, which shows Marilyn as fragile and tough, powerless and powerful, all at the same time. I balanced facts from 1958 with fiction to make the plot and some of the characters more contemporary to better connect with people today. Nothing is unrealistic, though. While Marilyn was treated brutally in life and in the press, I took a kinder approach. I know she'd love the ending.
Tell us about your Great American Destination Series and how the setting for this book influenced the story.
I'm writing destination books, in the spirit of destination weddings, to tell stories of hope, history, romance, and self-discovery at stunning locations you can visit. The series is centered around grand hotels, impressive mansions, and inspiring one-of-a-kind sites that are characters in their own rights.
Hotel del Coronado is an iconic destination at the Pacific's edge near San Diego. Opened in 1888, "the Del," which is believed to be haunted, has a one-of-a-kind sweeping silhouette—a cross between an ornate wedding cake and a well-trimmed ship. The heartwarming friendship at the center of my book seemed destined for this fascinating, storied locale.
What's the one thing you most want to tell readers, other writers, booksellers, publishers, or agents about you or your book?
Every story can have a happy ending. I made sure this one does. My Friend Marilyn is on sale for a limited time for $1.99.